Rion stormed Costello Mansion with an intent to throttle Phillip. He didn't want to, but necessity argued that, for once, he should remove the interruption. But Dr. Costello would raise eyebrows at a missing brother in an instance. For an entire day, Rion threw ink against parchment instead of carefully curling it; in his business and, equally his work, his mind spiralled in fanciful cartwheels.

Concentration had never been a problem to him, as came Rion’s honed multi-tasking: when his mind found its way into the problem of Phillip, his body pulled away. Solace, it seemed, emerged from distraction and power. They had a war to compile.

Finally, when the chink of glass bottles and his work had driven him far enough, he focused on the real task at hand.

Rion wasn’t falling over which meant more to him; each had their own shine, but which was the way out of his puzzle of tricking Phillip. Because, surely, a loophole emerged from the mess Phillip had created?

He couldn’t conceive of any. Slamming the inkwell down with a second grunt, Rion signed his letter and let his quill clatter to the table. He folded the parchment, brain running as quickly as it would go. He slipped it into the envelope on the desk, but his eyes lingered on the second slab of parchment. Rion shook his head. That would have to do for now.

Gingerly, Rion lifted the quill from its bed, and tipped it upright so its purple, feathered head danced by his chin. He scratched away the fluffy tips, and nudged the quill to the standing inkwell, before dipping its sculpted nib into the glossy back message-colour.

He dragged the parchment forward. Fingers tapped and fiddled with the edge. Better not bend it. A ruined parchment signalled a broken mind. The first rule of letter craft.

With half a deep breath, Rion started spilling out his cursive script, finding comfort from the harsh sounds of raw tearing alone.

Three minutes later, the paper was dark with the tears of the mind. Rion signed on the invisible line again, before going through his folding ritual. This time, he made sure that the edges of the parchment kissed in unison…as close as they had been before.

Rion ducked his head and opened the desk drawer. He fingers curled around the blue crest of the envelope: Costello by name. He lifted matches from the same crushed space of the drawer. Lighting the candle inches from his wrist, Rion caressed the shape and dangled it above the tucked letter and envelope. Another whorl of bubbling wax dripped onto the first waiting envelope. Then he had finished. Rion didn’t even sigh. 

He strode to the door, then threw it open. Whilst the bare corridor spread out in front of him, Rion knew his yell pulled in the one person he required.

“Richards. Richards!”

As expected, the figure at the end of the corridor rotated. The butler appeared at the door, straightening his gloves. “Sir?”

Rion pushed the two envelopes into his extended palm. “Please send these letters.”

“Of course, sir.”

Rion nodded and returned to the desk. He glanced at the window, the garden debris more like the insides of a foreign creature than the outside world of nature. Each tick-tock of the clock affixed to the wall stung him. Had to really sent the dismissal note?

The last thought still hummed in his brain when he jumped up and shut the window: had losing this fight been worth seeing his portrait in the hall alongside his father’s? Rion nearly trembled.

Instead, he snatched two black drapes from where they had been abandoned on the side of the sofa. He ran his hands along the velvet define, and slung them against the window. Night was a better cure for the thirst.

Rion gazed at the black abyss, swilling it between his eyes. He extended a hand part way, but retracted it instantly. Tenderness held an absence.

Rion swept from the room and continued his march through the Mansions. Only the clatter of his rough footsteps kept the temper calm in Rion’s heart.


The End

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